How to Act Fast When You Encounter Identity Theft

By: K. Petit

How To Act Fast When You Encounter Identity Theft

Hopefully this will not happen to you; that's what I always thought...save this or print it out to keep with your valuable information.

When you find out some one is accessing your account(s):

1. Notify your bank(s) and department stores. Cancel all existing accounts. (You will be able to open a new account immediately, don't worry. Right now you need to stop the thief.)

All these creditors will require dispute forms to be submitted, and you will have to deal with each one separately.

2. Notify the credit bureaus. The big three are:

TransUnion: P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.
Report fraud: (800) 680-7289 and write to address above.
TDD: (877) 553-7803
E-mail (fraud victims only): fvad@transunion.com
Web: www.transunion.com

Equifax: P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241.
Report fraud: Call (888) 766-0008 and write to address above.
TDD: (800) 255-0056
Web: www.equifax.com

Experian: PO Box 9532
Allen TX, 75013
Report fraud: Call (888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) and write to address above.
TDD: Use relay to fraud number above.
Web: www.experian.com/fraud


One credit bureau will contact the other two (verify this). Also request they place a fraud alert, meaning companies have to call YOU before opening any account (good for 90 days; there is an extended alert if you have a policie report and evidence of fraud). Request only thelast 4 digits of you SS# are on your account. You should also place a security freeze, meaning no one can view your credit report without your permission - definitely do that.

There's more. The credit bureaus will mail your reports, and you need to inspect them carefully, and, in writing, report back what is wrong with each acccount you find is in error. A sample is provided at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft.htm#Resolving. Also tell the Credit Bureaus to remove inquiries from anyone during the time of the fraud, so they are made aware there was bad information. (I had no idea there were bogus cell phone services in my name; I mean, the service was real, but it wasn't mine - I just had the bad credit!)

Sounds reassuring, but some companies ignore fraud alerts and continue to open accounts, so you have to keep checking, every few months.

Next, file a police report, for proof more than anything. You may get no help from law enforcement; just the way it is. Ask a lot of questions; is the report required on a local, county, or state level? They may not know themselves, so be persistent until you have some type of report in case a bill collector needs to see it.

I contacted debt collectors myself and reported that I was a victim of identity theft. Some people were really rude, but the law required them to report my allegation of identity theft. Again I had to submit this all in writing to the debt collectors and the creditors, and follow up until I received IN WRITING a confirmation that I was not responsible and the case against me was closed.

The fun continues; you need to notify the FTC:

The FTC's uniform fraud affidavit form is available at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf

I did not have any checks stolen, but if it happens to you close the account, notify the bank of which checks you are responsible, and request your bank notify ChexSystems, an agency that reports on checking accounts.

Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

* Guides for victims, www.idtheftcenter.org (Click on Victim Resources.)
* Phone: (858) 693-7935
* Web: www.idtheftcenter.org
* E-mail: itrc@idtheftcenter.org
* Write: P.O. Box 26833, San Diego, CA 92196

There are many more resources depending on your needs(mail theft, passport theft, etc.), but if you start at the ITRC they will be able to direct you.

I found my answer to preventing identity theft and what a lifesaver. I wish they had been around before!

Identity Theft
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